Times Colonist

How should I pre­pare my gut­ters for win­ter?

- PAUL F.P. POGUE Lifestyle · Lifehacks

Your gut­ters pro­vide an im­por­tant ser­vice to your home’s well-be­ing, and clean gut­ters are ab­so­lutely cru­cial in win­ter.

Fall­ing leaves, even if trees aren’t near your gut­ters, cre­ate block­ages. In some ar­eas, wa­ter that gets backed up into the gut­ters can freeze and cause roof or sof­fit dam­age, or help cre­ate ice dams that can cause a lot of roof dam­age.

Clean gut­ters also help your base­ment or foun­da­tion, be­cause wa­ter that over­flows and pools near the foun­da­tion can dam­age the stone over time. So, it’s im­por­tant to pay at­ten­tion to them. Fol­low this check­list to see if your gut­ters need at­ten­tion right away.

1. Have your gut­ters been cleaned lately?

Your gut­ters need to be cleaned reg­u­larly to stay in good shape — de­bris buildup de­feats their pur­pose. Ex­perts rec­om­mend do­ing it at least twice a year, in spring and au­tumn. It’s not too late to hire a pro­fes­sional for a clean­ing this sea­son, be­fore the truly cold months hit. You can ex­pect to pay about $150 for a stan­dard gut­ter clean­ing — more if you have a very large house or more than two storeys. Check­ing for li­cens­ing, bond­ing and in­sur­ance is al­ways a good idea, but it’s par­tic­u­larly vi­tal on any job in­volv­ing lad­ders, be­cause you don’t want to be re­spon­si­ble for dam­ages if some­one falls and gets in­jured.

2. Are they sag­ging?

If your gut­ters sag, you need to ad­dress it as soon as pos­si­ble. Once gut­ters be­gin to lean or pull away, the prob­lem gets worse quickly. Your fas­cia board could rot. Or, the gut­ters might col­lapse en­tirely. Bro­ken spikes and hang­ers usu­ally cause sag­ging gut­ters, so re­place this hard­ware as nec­es­sary.

3. Can you see leaks?

If your gut­ters aren’t blocked but wa­ter is still es­cap­ing, you prob­a­bly have a leak. Th­ese some­times open at the joints be­tween sec­tions. In those cases, you can re­seal them. Cracked gut­ters will need to be re­placed, though.

4. Do your gut­ters show signs of dam­age?

Sev­eral tell­tale mark­ers can give you early warn­ing of gut­ter dam­age. If paint is peel­ing on or around them, it may mean wa­ter is present. Pools of wa­ter or mildew near the foun­da­tion in­di­cate trou­ble. If you see wa­ter marks or wa­ter dam­age be­neath the gut­ters, wa­ter is prob­a­bly es­cap­ing. Hire a pro to in­ves­ti­gate any of th­ese prob­lems.

5. Are they pitched cor­rectly? Gut­ters must be slightly pitched to­wards the down­spout. Most gut­ters are pitched at 1/8 or 1/16 inch per foot. You usu­ally can’t de­ter­mine this by looks alone. But if wa­ter pools and there’s no block­age, your gut­ters are prob­a­bly im­prop­erly pitched. Pitch ad­just­ment is a del­i­cate job that must be done pre­cisely. It’s best left to a pro­fes­sional. Also check to see if your down­spouts di­rect wa­ter at least a me­tre-and-ahalf away from the house, to pre­vent pool­ing. Two or three me­tres is even bet­ter.

 ?? DREAM­STIME/TNS ?? Proper gut­ter clean­ing is cru­cial to pre­vent­ing foun­da­tion and roof dam­age.
DREAM­STIME/TNS Proper gut­ter clean­ing is cru­cial to pre­vent­ing foun­da­tion and roof dam­age.

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